Arthur Conan Doyle Fullscreen The Lost World (1912)


It is slower and more terrible.

Your bones will whiten up there, and none will know where you lie or come to cover them.

As you lie dying, think of Lopez, whom you shot five years ago on the Putomayo River.

I am his brother, and, come what will I will die happy now, for his memory has been avenged."

A furious hand was shaken at us, and then all was quiet.

Had the half-breed simply wrought his vengeance and then escaped, all might have been well with him.

It was that foolish, irresistible Latin impulse to be dramatic which brought his own downfall. Roxton, the man who had earned himself the name of the Flail of the Lord through three countries, was not one who could be safely taunted.

The half-breed was descending on the farther side of the pinnacle; but before he could reach the ground Lord John had run along the edge of the plateau and gained a point from which he could see his man.

There was a single crack of his rifle, and, though we saw nothing, we heard the scream and then the distant thud of the falling body.

Roxton came back to us with a face of granite.

"I have been a blind simpleton," said he, bitterly,

"It's my folly that has brought you all into this trouble.

I should have remembered that these people have long memories for blood-feuds, and have been more upon my guard."

"What about the other one?

It took two of them to lever that tree over the edge."

"I could have shot him, but I let him go.

He may have had no part in it.

Perhaps it would have been better if I had killed him, for he must, as you say, have lent a hand."

Now that we had the clue to his action, each of us could cast back and remember some sinister act upon the part of the half-breed—his constant desire to know our plans, his arrest outside our tent when he was over-hearing them, the furtive looks of hatred which from time to time one or other of us had surprised.

We were still discussing it, endeavoring to adjust our minds to these new conditions, when a singular scene in the plain below arrested our attention.

A man in white clothes, who could only be the surviving half-breed, was running as one does run when Death is the pacemaker.

Behind him, only a few yards in his rear, bounded the huge ebony figure of Zambo, our devoted negro.

Even as we looked, he sprang upon the back of the fugitive and flung his arms round his neck.

They rolled on the ground together.

An instant afterwards Zambo rose, looked at the prostrate man, and then, waving his hand joyously to us, came running in our direction.

The white figure lay motionless in the middle of the great plain.

Our two traitors had been destroyed, but the mischief that they had done lived after them.

By no possible means could we get back to the pinnacle.

We had been natives of the world; now we were natives of the plateau.

The two things were separate and apart.

There was the plain which led to the canoes.

Yonder, beyond the violet, hazy horizon, was the stream which led back to civilization.

But the link between was missing.

No human ingenuity could suggest a means of bridging the chasm which yawned between ourselves and our past lives.

One instant had altered the whole conditions of our existence.

It was at such a moment that I learned the stuff of which my three comrades were composed.

They were grave, it is true, and thoughtful, but of an invincible serenity.

For the moment we could only sit among the bushes in patience and wait the coming of Zambo.

Presently his honest black face topped the rocks and his Herculean figure emerged upon the top of the pinnacle.

"What I do now?" he cried.

"You tell me and I do it."

It was a question which it was easier to ask than to answer.

One thing only was clear. He was our one trusty link with the outside world.

On no account must he leave us.

"No no!" he cried.

"I not leave you.

Whatever come, you always find me here.

But no able to keep Indians.

Already they say too much Curupuri live on this place, and they go home.

Now you leave them me no able to keep them."